As we drove down the beach, scouting out areas to set up camp, we noticed dark clouds rolling in (see below). Driving at 15 mph on beach sand takes some time and we wanted to make sure we were at least halfway to the lighthouse.
We finally chose an area to set up camp and we were left to debate whether to set up camp or wait out the storm. It was approaching lunch time and my first packing error came to mind. I didn't have a specific lunch plan and all our food was buried in ice packed coolers. We had three coolers with us. One for meats which was only to be opened once per day. One for dairy and lunch meats and a third for beverages, mainly water. Trying to find something in an ice packed cooler is like fishing for a key you dropped in the snow (yes, this is from experience). Your hand freezes as you guess the contents of the cooler and only hope you pull out the right item. We eventually settled on lunch meat and cheese but we needed somewhere to prepare our lunch and chairs to sit and enjoy them in.
This is when I realized my second packing error. The tents, shelter, and table were packed first meaning everything else had to be unloaded onto the sandy beach to get to them.
As we emptied our SUV onto the sandy beach, the rain started to come. We quickly popped up our wonderful Lightspeed screen house and scrambled like mice to put things in it and back into the car. At this point the kids were happily playing in the dunes and quite upset when we told them to take shelter in the car. Still hungry and tired of car snacks, we waited out the storm.
The sun eventually appeared and we scrambled to pop up our sleeping tent. This is where mistake number three of the day became apparent. We had invested in a new screen house, several coolers, a stove and several other items but never considered how our tent would withstand the winds. In fact when we researched our screen house, we intentionally purchased one from Lightspeed because they are made for the beach.
Trying to erect our tent was like trying to wrangle a bucking bull. We had to put our coolers inside of it just to stake it down. We then had to inflate my mattress (what'd you think I slept on the ground?) using our car outlet all the while keeping it from blowing down the beach. I'm pretty sure the scene was quite comical although it felt like anything short of a comedy. We continued for several hours battling between rain showers and gust of wind until our camp was set up. As you can see from below, we had our sleeping tent and then directly behind it was a play tent for the kids. We has a screen house and then a sun shelter, both Lightspeed tents in the bottom picture.
At this point we felt like we had been there for several days and we were quite exhausted. I battled through the fatigue and managed to cook us a hot meal on our new stove. We then enjoyed the beautiful beach waters before making an early fire to roast marshmallows and make smores.
The night was lovely so we decided to wear off the sugar by taking a leisurely long walk down the vacant beach.
Just as we turned to head back, another storm approached soaking us all. Since they can produce some dangerous lightening, we were forced to sprint back the 1/2 mile or so to our car for shelter. At this point we looked at each other and said "what the heck were we thinking?" Storms often passed as quickly as they came and I was able to tuck an exhausted Ellie into bed before enjoying the beach a little more.
As dark approached, we took Brayden and Teagan out hunting for ghost crabs. Armed with their buckets and flashlights, we scanned the beach looking for movement. We eventually found this cute little guy who we visited with briefly before releasing him back to the ocean.
After ghost crab hunting, we crawled into our tent exhausted from the day's activities. I was expecting two excited children who suddenly realized they were in a tent and would get to sleep with mom and dad. It happens every time. They are overwhelmed and excited rendering them sleepless. Unlike many other parts of the trip so far, I was fully prepared for this moment. I handed them both brand new journals and pens. I asked them to draw and write about their day by the light of their lanterns. This quickly became a tradition each night that they looked forward to as much as we did. It worked like a charm and they easily fell asleep after writing about their day.
After a busy day of unpacking, we were ready for Monday to be a relaxing day two. But was it ... ?